A Guide to the Mandatory Reporting
of Child Abuse
Who is a mandatory reporter? Any adult who suspects that a child is
abused, abandoned or neglected is obliged to report the
abuse to the appropriate authorities. This is both a legal
and moral obligation.
Who are the appropriate authorities?
The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline is staffed 24
hours a day, 7 days a week, with professional crisis
counselors who have access to a database of 55,000
emergency, social service, and support resources. All calls
are anonymous. Contact them at
State Child Abuse Reporting Numbers:
your local police
1. When should I report?
A report must be made when the reporter, in his or her
or has reasons to believe that a child has
been abused or neglected. A report must be made when the
reporter has knowledge of, or observes a child being
subjected to, conditions that would reasonably result in
harm to the child.
2. Do I have to give my name?
Reports may be made anonymously to most of these reporting
numbers, but States find it helpful to their investigations
to know the identity of reporters. Professionals who report
are obliged to give their names.
3. A report is required when:
A person knows or has reasonable
cause to suspect that a child is abused,
A person knows that a child is in
need of supervision and care and has no parent,
legal custodian, or responsible adult relative immediately
known and available to
provide supervision and care.
4. Professionals Required to Report
Individuals designated as mandatory reporters typically have frequent
contact with children. These professionals can be held
liable by both the civil and criminal legal systems for
intentionally failing to make a report. The following
persons are mandated reporters:
Physicians, osteopaths, medical
examiners, chiropractors, nurses, or hospital personnel
Other health or mental health
Practitioners who rely solely on
spiritual means for healing
Teachers, school officials and
Social workers, daycare center workers,
professional child care, foster care,
residential or institutional workers
Law enforcement officers and judges
Counselors and therapists
Clergy, clerical staff from all
Probation and parole officers
Animal control officers
Court appointed special advocates or
5. Disclosure of Reporter Identity
The names of reporters shall be entered into the record of the report
but shall be held confidential. The name of the reporter may
not be released to any person other than those responsible
for child protective services, the central abuse hotline,
law enforcement, the child protection team, or the
appropriate State legal representative, without the written
consent of the person reporting.
6. Failing to report abuse
Failure to report child abuse may result in fines,
imprisonment - or both.
7. Filing a False report
A person who knowingly files a report known to be false may
incur fines or imprisonment.
8. Disclosure of Reporter Identity
The names of reporters shall be entered into the record of
the report but shall be held confidential. The name of the
reporter may not be released to any person other than those
responsible for child protective services, the central abuse
hotline, law enforcement, the child protection team, or the
appropriate State legal representative, without the written
consent of the person reporting. (Check your local
jurisdiction for further information)
9. Information needed for the report
1. Child’s Name, Age, Gender, Address
2. Parent’s name and address
3. What you saw; what makes you suspicious of abuse
4. Nature and extend of the injury or condition observed
5. Actions you have taken (for example; have you spoken to
6. Where did the act occur?
7. Reporter’s name (you), location and contact information.
(If you are willing to provide this information it is
extremely valuable in following through on the report)
Frequently asked questions
1. What do I do if a child tells me that someone is hurting
or abusing them?
If a child discloses that he or she has been abused by
someone, it is important that you listen to them
• Ask leading questions
• Make promises
• Notify the parents or the care-giver
• Provide a safe environment (be
comforting, welcoming, listen)
• Tell the child it was not his/her fault
• Listen carefully
• Try to not react in a negative or
• Document the child’s exact quotes (write them down)
• Be supportive, not judgmental
• Know your limits
• Tell the truth and make no promises
• Ask ONLY four questions
did this to you?
were you when this happened?
did this happen?
Asking any additional questions may contaminate a
Be aware of what you
need to know as opposed to what you want to know.
Call your local Police and Child Abuse Hotline.
2. I know of a child being abused but I don't want to get
You already are involved. By not taking action you have
already made a decision to not help a child in need. If
something happens to the child, can you live with the
knowledge that you could have done something to help simply
by lifting the phone?
3. I've called the abuse hotline and I'm left on hold forever
Hang up and dial 911 or your local police and explain that
you need to make a report.
4. Do I have to know for sure that the child is being abused
No. You only have to suspect that the child is being
5. Can I discuss my suspicions or report to anyone else?
No. The child is entitled to confidentiality and discussing
the report with others could cause the child harm. If
necessary you could discuss it with the child's teacher or
school principle or family doctor with the understanding
that they too will file a report.
6. What are the types of abuse?
The Four types of child abuse are: 1. Physical abuse. 2.
Sexual abuse (Rape, molestation, exploitation, child
pornography production, distribution and possession). 3.
Neglect (Physical neglect, medical neglect, educational
neglect, and emotional neglect).
4. Emotional or psychological abuse.
7. Who can abuse happen to?
Any child. A child of any age, sex, race, religion, and
socioeconomic background can fall victim to child abuse and
neglect. Abuse and neglect may result in the death of the
child or incur life-long physical or mental damage or
You may be the only defense a child has. If you don't report
abuse, who will?
Note: This is a guide. Local or Federal laws supercede the information
free copies of Mandatory Reporting Guide: (Click)